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Class Action Lawsuit Claims Wal-Mart Discriminates Against African-Americans Seeking Truck Driving Jobs

September 28, 2004

A federal lawsuit alleges Wal-Mart Stores Inc. discriminates against African-Americans seeking truck-driving jobs, a contention the retailer denies, according to the Associated Press.The suit, filed on Sept. 22 by Daryal Nelson of Coldwater, Miss., in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, alleges that Wal-Mart rejects and discourages black applicants for truck-driving jobs at the chain's distribution centers in 12 Southern states.Nelson, who is seeking class-action status for his lawsuit, contends that, in May 2002, after he applied many times for a truck-driver position with the company, he was promised a job at a distribution center in Searcy. But when he reported to an area director, as instructed by the company, the director told him he could work as a laborer, the suit said. Nelson said the area director used “racial stereotyping'' in expressing “a gut feeling'' that Nelson had falsified his credit rating and driving record.Nelson filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An EEOC document attached to the complaint found “reasonable cause'' to believe the 22-year, truck-driving veteran was discriminated against. The EEOC said Nelson has a good driving record and noted that only one of the 20 drivers Bentonville-based Wal-Mart hired in 2002 was black. In addition, the EEOC said some of the white drivers had much less experience than Nelson and more serious trucking violations.Gus Whitcomb, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said Wednesday that he couldn't comment on the lawsuit because he hadn't seen it. However, he said, “We do not discriminate in our hiring practices.'' The suit asks that Wal-Mart be ordered not to discriminate and it seeks compensation for those who've been discriminated against and for would-be applicants who were discouraged from applying because of the company's practice.
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